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  • Ken Ribotsky

How does one build self-esteem?

Updated: May 6, 2019



What exactly is self-esteem and how do we get more of it?

Before I became a psychotherapist, if someone had told me I needed to build more self-esteem I would have scratched my head and said, “what exactly is self-esteem and how do I get it?”


The dictionary definition of self-esteem is simple: confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect. Building self-esteem is more complicated because it’s actually a process that begins way back in childhood. We begin to form our ideas of how we feel about ourselves based on the messages we receive from others during our formative years. As adults, our self-esteem can be damaged by negative relationships or troubles at work. Improving our self-esteem is a process that requires patience, and time.


There is no one-sized-fits-all approach to building self-esteem because everyone is different. There are also a myriad of tools you can add to your self-esteem-building toolbox. That’s why it is so important to work with an engaged psychotherapist who really “gets you.”


I often first work with clients to help them identify messages they received as a child and the messages they’re telling themselves now. Once they start to see that these messages are simply not true, we can begin to correct—or replace—them with new messages that help them to feel better about themselves. Because at the simplest level, we are who we think we are—and that’s how we start to build self-esteem.

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